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Shiny happy person: Nope, not so much

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I've never considered myself a happy person. I don't mean to imply that my major arteries need monitoring or to hint to my parents that they had best place all toxic cleaning supplies out of my reach (although tipping the measuring tape at barely over five feet means they probably already are.)

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Merely, I don't regard myself as somebody in a constant state of euphoria. Rays of sunshine do not emit from my mouth when I grin. Trails of flowers do not spring up when I stroll across the lawn (I've tried). And when my room gets perhaps a titch cluttered, forest animals don't typically hop to attention to remedy the situation.

I do not bring joy into the lives of all whom I meet with my naturally exuberant nature and overall radiant blissfulness. (Can you sense my subtle sarcasm?) But I smile a lot and sometimes I have fun, so I figure I might be adequately pleasant.

This week, I broke. Not the law -- though I vaguely recall a brief jaywalk -- not any of my phalanges, and not any pricey trinkets from exotic countries with excessively expansive beaches and too much vacation time. I just...broke.

Somewhere amongst my irate ranting at being awake before 10 Monday morning, realizing I hadn't begun to memorize the script for this month's one-act play competition, forcibly attending every one of my classes (but, but, but I'm a senior!), and possessing an inevitably unstable temperament, the yarn making up my metaphorical scarf unraveled. Actually, my literal scarves are plagued in much the same way. Jeez, life is rough.

Ultimately, I don't know what makes a happy person. Obviously, I mean this beyond the disgustingly massive amounts of cash, diamond-splattered engagement ring from Prince Charming (I could so take down Cinderella and her fur-covered chums if given the chance to fight to the death for that hottie's heart), Sex-and-the-City-worthy wardrobe, and never having to put any effort toward gaining all one desires, all of which are undeniable prerequisites to honest bliss.

Everyone wants to be happy, of course. Whether they go about it by gardening (and not killing everything they touch), playing sports (and not being nearly killed by every flying object that touches them), eating entire bowls of brownie batter, hanging out at Perkins until it closes (it doesn't), or nurturing a fondness for mind-altering substances, the aim is the same.

If ever I meet someone who can admit without any hint of humor that he or she doesn't want a joyful existence, I promise to stop ranting about my crazed philosophical quandaries. On my honor, I will try...and that's all I remember of my Girl Scout days, beyond carrying my dues in the bottom of my snow boots and absolutely bawling the year I missed the Brownie sleepover.

The more I ponder, and the more I let myself listen to what the really, really smart people in my life have been telling me, the more I understand that it's not the absence of obviously unhappy aspects in one's day-to-day strutting and strolling that amount to bliss. It's simpler than that, but it's harder to comprehend.

Sometimes it takes shape as a hugged hello in the hallway between classes, when you've got two AP projects due in the next week. It may be an intent discussion during lunch about the many artistic endeavors which can be (and have been) undertaken by a friend with three raisins, a fork and no desire to eat the school's mashed potatoes, which makes you forget that you have approximately 13 minutes of spare time that evening, haven't yet started your writing column (oops), the only insight you have into Macbeth is your sudden revelation that that's where "double double toil and trouble" hails from, and you don't remember the last time you called up your best friend without urgently needing something from her.

Maybe it comes in the form of a birthday text message at 3 in the morning when it doesn't make sense for him to still remember that's the exact moment you were born. It's smiling at someone who needs it...when you need a heartening grin from somebody just as much.

Well, guys 'n' gals, that's all I've got this week. I'm going to go grab my knitting needles and see what I can do about those scarves.

Thressa Johnson is a senior at Detroit Lakes High School.

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